In search of their second consecutive series win, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (20-29/59-60) defeated Frisco (20-29/51-68) as LHP Foster Griffin stymied the RoughRiders offense in a 4-2 win on Saturday night at Arvest Ballpark. The victory gives them three straight series wins at home and also the first winning homestand since June 29 through July 4.
Griffin (W, 9-4), a former first round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2014, made his 15th start of the season for Northwest Arkansas and was in command throughout after Jack Lopez spotted his starting pitcher an early run with a solo home run to lead off the game for Northwest Arkansas. The big lefty improved to 5-1 at Arvest Ballpark on the season and did so by scattering eight hits while limiting the RoughRiders to only two runs on 87 pitches, 59 of which that went for strikes.
Northwest Arkansas would add another tally to their 1-0 lead in the fourth. Hunter Dozier worked a leadoff walk, advanced to third on a single to left by Samir Duenez , then scored on a RBI groundout by Mauricio Ramos to extend the advantage to 2-0.
The only trouble Griffin ran into on the night was in the top of the fifth when Frisco would use three consecutive hits to tie the game. Luis Marte got the RoughRiders' rally started with a one-out single before advancing to third on a double by Michael De Leon . That set the table for Michael O'Neill and he came through with a key two-run single to center even the ballgame at 2-2.
The game remained 2-2 into the seventh before Lopez would plate the game-winners with some clutch, two-out hitting. With Anderson Miller at third and Nick Dini at second, the Naturals leadoff man finished off his big game in style as he took a pitch on the outer half from RHP Richelson Pena (L, 1-1) and dropped it in for a two-run single. That gave the Naturals a 4-2 lead, which would eventually be the final. Lopez led the Naturals attack on Saturday by going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs.
LHP Richard Lovelady (S, 1) earned the save as he was perfect in his 1.1 innings of relief of Griffin to close out the game.
Northwest Arkansas will conclude their current 6-game homestand with the series finale against the Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A Texas Rangers) tomorrow afternoon - Sunday, August 13 - at Arvest Ballpark. Tomorrow's 2:05 p.m. game is the last Bark in the Ballpark of the year and it occurs on a KIDS EAT FREE Family Sunday with Mercy Kids Run the Bases. The RoughRiders will turn to RHP Ariel Jurado (8-10, 5.00 ERA) to stave off the sweep while the Naturals have yet to name a starter for the finale. Catch the live play-by-play action with the Voice of the Naturals Benjamin Kelly on KQSM - 92.1 The Ticket, your home for Naturals baseball, at 1:45 p.m. for the Indigo Sky Casino Pregame Show leading up to first pitch at Arvest Ballpark.
Follow the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Facebook and Twitter @NWANaturals all throughout the year by using the hashtag #NaturalPastime and #CrowntoCrown for all of our up-to-date information on Season 10 of Naturals baseball.
The Northwest Arkansas Naturals are the Double-A Texas League Affiliate of the Kansas City Royals. The Naturals play at state-of-the-art Arvest Ballpark in Springdale, Ark. For more information, including statistics, ticket options, and more, please visit NWANaturals.com, and follow us on Twitter @NWANaturals and Facebook.com/Naturals.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.